O = Octopus (Blue-Ringed), A to Z Blog Challenge

Ack! Tomorrow I will be making two entries: one for the A-Z thing — which I’m really enjoying, even if nobody else cares — and another about my new short story, Threads of Discord, which comes out as part of the Mythologically Torqued vol. 2 anthology. My story will be available within the anthology as well as separately. I’ll have more then.

Also, tonight I made an abrupt about face with my blog decision. I always planned to do octopuses (don’t let anyone tell you that “octopi” is proper. It’s one of those things that is so overused that it has become part of the language, despite no etymological basis) but the sheer amount of data is overwhelming. I have researched them quite a bit as part of a shelved story idea and a more recent and active one, and they are fascinating, wonderful, crafty, incredibly intelligent animals.

They use tools, and that alone speaks to their intelligence. Few creatures, and fewer non-mammals, do this. They form attachments, showing obvious affection for certain handlers (caressing and swimming to them) while disliking others (throwing things, inking, scuttling away). Octopuses are the ninjas of the sea, and when you think of them in that context, they gain infinite awesomeness and sea-cred. They can fit almost anywhere, they are sneaky, they can run on land, they change color at will to blend in for cover or predation, and the list goes on. Basically, if Ursula the Sea Witch wasn’t so fat and lazy, she would have been an amazing, deadly magic-ninja.

This octopus is one of many who have been discovered using coconut shells for concealment and protection.

This octopus is one of many who have been discovered using coconut shells for concealment and protection.

Octopuses are tragic parents, though. A mother will look after her eggs, starving herself literally to death to look after them. The males almost invariably die a few months after mating. For octopuses, the abstinence plan is really something they should look into.

However, there is one octopus species that especially fascinates me — the blue-ringed octopus. All octopuses are poisonous, though most are only mildly so (See?! Ninjas of the sea!) Not the blue-ringed octopus. This kid is lethal.

Pretty, but it will kill you.

Pretty, but it will kill you.

The blue-ringed octopus is one of the world’s most venomous marine animals. They are only 5-8 inches and pretty easy going, but should never be bothered or handled, as there is some evidence that trace amounts of venom can penetrate through mere contact with the octopus.

Like this dumbass is doing.

Like this dumbass is doing.

When they are pissed off, threatened, or agitated, their coloring gets darker and their blue rings become iridescent. At that point, you should shoot out of the water, levitate above it, and hover-sprint to dry land. One blue-ringed octopus carries enough venom to kill about 25 adult humans. Remember the ninja thing I’ve been talking about? Their bites are small and often painless, with the victim often not even realizing he/she had been bitten until respiratory depression and paralysis set in. There can also be nausea, heart failure, blindness, and paralysis. Some victims have reported being unable to move or respond but being aware. The main component of their toxin, tetrodotoxin, is 1,200 more toxic than cyanide.

When they put up signs, it's no freakin' joke.

When they put up signs, it’s no freakin’ joke.

There is no anti-venom. First aid and artificial respiration are the best bets, since the venom kills mostly through paralysis. Since the victim may not be able to respond, and will sometimes appear clinically dead (dilated and fixed pupils). Artificial breathing for the victim is essential until the paralysis wears off and he/she can breathe alone.

It might be mentioned that (according to M.W. Cheng and R.L. Caldwell) they will “attempt copulation…regardless of sex or size” thus making them venomous, bisexual, sea-ninjas. Look out. Seriously. And where are they located usually? Primarily New South Wales and (where else) Australia!

Alternate letter considerations: Orcas, opera, oracles, opiate abuse

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 18, 2015.

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